Grace believed me, or so she’d said, but I knew Alexander was under the impression it was all an elaborate lie that I’d made up so that they would forgive me and allow me to continue dancing. Even so, there were plenty of new rules that my ‘mother’ had put in place, leaving me somewhat lacking in freedom. I didn’t yet know how much Alexander had had to do with them.
The first, and probably most upsetting, was that I was only allowed three dance classes a week, and Miss Stroud was to accompany me, so that she could supervise any ‘goings-on’. That was a real blow to me.
The second was that I should be accompanied anywhere I went that was out of sight of Grace and Alexander; my chaperones were to make sure I behaved in a decorous manner.
And thirdly, I was to go to bed at precisely eight o’clock each night, which would mean I had more time to sleep and this would—or so they reasoned—make me a more gentle person, and would encourage me to listen to them more. Right. Because that had always worked in the past.
Though I pleaded, these remained in place, even with promises and bribery. I did, however, have hope.
“We will get you home,” said Grace in a hushed tone one afternoon, after looking around to see if Alexander could be near enough to hear. “It isn’t right that you should stay here when you do not belong.” But I didn’t see what she could do about it.
“If I knew how I’d got here…” was my constant sigh, and Grace seemed to echo my thoughts, asking me again and again if I had any clue, if I’d had odd dreams or seen anything strange, but the only answer I could give was ‘no’.
Madame Lejeune was pleased to see me, although the limited classes and freedom to do what she wished disappointed her and she seemed gloomy. “But it could have been worse,” she reminded me. “You are still allowed to study ballet. Always look on the bright side of anything that goes wrong.” I did my best to follow that wise philosophy, even plagued with a strong sense of homesickness and nostalgia, though the things for which I yearned belonged far in the future.
“No Irish dance,” Miss Stroud had told her dutifully, another ally no longer on my side. “Stick to ballet.” So we did, but oh, how relentless was the training, three hours a day to make up for the lost classes, and sometimes longer. Once I was at the studio for six hours solid and would have remained had Miss Stroud, waking from an involuntary slumber, frostily insisted that I “hurry up and get myself out of those clothes into something respectable” so that we could go home.
In my teacher, Sinead Lejeune, I had found a soul mate, and I knew how lucky I was. But I was dreaming of a different class, held in quite a different location, where shoes and clothes were black, where the teachers were men and the music was an accordion, recordings provided by an Apple Mac that every now and again broke down entirely … a class where I was known for being a late starter and yet had managed to work myself into the higher levels, a class where competitions and trophies were everything and exams were unheard of … I was dreaming of home.